Release Year: 1994
Stars: Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N’Bushe Wright
Director: Boaz Yakin
Writer: Boaz Yakin
Fresh (Sean Nelson) is a 12-year-old drug dealer who finds himself trapped in a web of poverty, corruption and racial tension in Brooklyn, New York. When his drug-addict sister Nichole (N’Bushe Wright) starts sleeping with local drug lord Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito), Fresh calls upon the skills he learned playing chess with his alcoholic father and speed-chess champion Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) and devises a complex strategy that will free both himself and his sister.
How Does It Hold Up?
25 years since its release, Fresh remains a good movie. Original and impressively complex, the film uses well-paced storytelling to reveal Fresh (Sean Nelson) as a kid-turned-calloused-young-man. The film’s theme drills down on the lengths people will go to survive in violent circumstances. Fresh’s estranged relationship with his father is a great catalyst to introducing Fresh’s complex way of thinking that ultimately sets the play of the film. Fresh‘s storytelling is smart and timeless, offering up new insights with every viewing, making for easy re-watching. Beautifully paced, this film is a testimony to early ’90s way of life.
Writer/director Boaz Yakin does an extraordinary job bringing the story to life with brilliant casting and a direction that strays away from the traditional crime drama, revealing a tone similar to coming-of-age films like Forrest Gump or Shawshank Redemption. And like those films, Fresh remains unscathed with time and delivers a pang nostalgia.
The film’s soundtrack is pensive and whimsical, instead of loud and erratic; a brilliant device Yakin uses in helping weave the complexity of the story through the eyes of someone so young.
Young talent blossoms in Sean Nelson, who stands out in scenes with acting greats Samuel L. Jackson, and Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito. Usually with child actors, it is not uncommon for there to be clunky acting (and there are some of that in this one), but Sean Nelson gives us just enough to preserve his character, making his performance still impressive.